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Identifying Journals for Publication

A guide for faculty and students who would like to learn more about how to identify journals for publication

Guide Purpose

The purpose of this guide is to provide guidance on choosing reputable scholarly journals for publication.

A possible workplan for your submission might look something like this:

Step 1: Write, edit, and request informal peer review of your article. 

Step 2: Identify potential journals to investigate for publication.

  • Investigate journal rank by looking at its impact factor using a tool such as Google Scholar Metrics.
  • Do a check to determine if the journal is considered predatory, by doing some evaluative steps listed in the predatory journals tab.
  • Look at acceptance rate of journal.
  • Look at availability of journal.
  • All of these factors can affect author impact, which is significant for academic advancement.

Step 3: Closely read selected journals' submission guidelines. If your article subject matter matches the journal's criteria, edit article format, citation, etc. to comply. 

Step 4: Carefully write the article's title and abstract, as well as a cover letter to accompany your submission.

Below, we go through some tools which may help you in these steps, as well as give you a better understanding of the process. Other important considerations during this process may include predatory publishing and copyright compliance. Guides to these concepts are in tabs at the top of the page. 

Online tools to identify journals for publication

One very simple way to identify journals that might be a good fit for your article is to look at the journals the sources in your bibliography are publishing in. Beyond this approach, there are many tools created by publishers and search companies to help authors identify appropriate journals for publication. McKillop Library does not subscribe to several significant tools such as Web of Science and InCites Journal Citation Reports, but if you are affiliated with another academic library, you can check to see if they have a subscription. 

Elsevier's Journal Finder offers potential journal titles across disciplines after submitting an article title and abstract. However, it only searches Elsevier journals, so it should not be your only search tools.

Springer also offers a journal finder, which searches all Springer and BioMed journals to match your abstract to their content.

Jane is tool that can help identify journals for articles in the health sciences.  How does Jane work? From their website: Jane first searches for the 50 articles that are most similar to your input*. For each of these articles, a similarity score between that article and your input is calculated. The similarity scores of all the articles belonging to a certain journal or author are summed to calculate the confidence score for that journal or author. The results are ranked by confidence score. Which journals are included in Jane? Basically, all journals included in PubMed are included in Jane. However, in order to show only active journals, we do not show journals for which no entry was found in PubMed in the last year.

Across all disciplines, you can use Google Scholar Metrics to narrow down journals by your field. This tool also measures impact factor.

Acceptance rates can give an idea of how prestigious a journal is. Journals with lower acceptance rates are probably more prestigious. Some sources for this analysis include:

The American Psychological Association's Journal Statistics and Operations Data, which gives information about manuscript rejection rates, circulation data, publication lag time, and other journal statistics.

Impact factor is measured by different metrics. Some tools, such as Google Scholar Metrics, use a variation of the H-factor (or Hirsch factor, for the physicist who conceived of it). Loosely, the H-factor measures the numbers of publications and citations of those publications for an author. Google's H-5 factor measures the impact of a publication over a 5-year period. 

Eigenfactor is another tool which can help measure impact factor. The search algorithm used by Eigenfactor differs from that used by Google and Web of Science. From the website

Eigenfactor® scores and Article Influence® scores adjust for citation differences across disciplines.

Different disciplines have different standards for citation and different time scales on which citations occur. The average article in a leading cell biology journal might receive 10-30 citations within two years; the average article in leading mathematics journal would do very well to receive 2 citations over the same period. By using the whole citation network, our algorithm automatically accounts for these differences and allows better comparison across research areas.

Other reading


Elsevier Connect blog post: "7 steps to publishing in a scientific journal:  Before you hit “submit,” here’s a checklist (and pitfalls to avoid)," by Aijaz A. Shaikh. Shaik's post is a quick and clear read to start your process. Among his suggestions, which are well-explained in his post, 

  1. Read the aims and scope and author guidelines of your target journal carefully.
  2. Make a good first impression with your title and abstract.
  3. Have a professional editing firm copy-edit (not just proofread) your manuscript, including the main text, list of references, tables and figures.
  4. Submit a cover letter with the manuscript.

For an academic treatment of the topic, look at "Selecting an Appropriate Publication Outlet: A Comprehensive Model of Journal Selection Criteria for Researchers in a Broad Range of Academic Disciplines" written by Linda V. Knight and Theresa A. Steinbach from DePaul University. The authors develop a specific set of guidelines "for evaluating such concepts as manuscript-journal “fit,” journal prestige, and journal visibility. The graphical model developed here assists authors in comparing journal alternatives and provides new researchers with insights into how the three primary journal selection categories are weighed and balanced."


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Dawn Emsellem
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